Gutsy display gives the Reds deserved victory over dirty Everton: Portsmouth loss the catalyst to new found form.
There's going to be a lot of analysis about Liverpool's excellent win over Everton on Saturday with the main focus on the Reds grit and determination, even when they were down to ten men. Everton just couldn't cope and resorted to tackles that should have brought them at least two red cards earlier in the game before Pienaar was eventually, and justifiably, sent off.
It was an enthralling match with few goal scoring chances, the highlights being Gerrard's terrific free-kick from just outside the box that hit the cross-bar with Howard well beaten and Dirk Kuyt's close range, match winning, header from a perfect Gerrard corner kick. Kuyt deserves a lot a credit for his positioning and persistence on that one. Fortunately, Cahill missed a glorious opportunity to put Everton ahead at the end of the 1st half although, looking at the replay, Reina may well have had it covered.
The big controversy's of course were the sending off's, or should I say the lack of them.
Pienaar should have been off the pitch for his dreadful challenge on Mascherano, he could have broken his leg, and Fellaini not Kyrgiakos should have been shown the red card for his stamp on Kyrgiakos's ankle which later required several stitches. In reality Fellaini should have been sent off even earlier for kicking Kuyt in the face while he was down after another dirty Everton tackle. Both of these players were a disgrace and further illustrated Everton's desperation throughout the game.
The fact is Liverpool have now gone undefeated in their last 7 games, with only 1 goal conceded and 4 clean sheets. It's an impressive recovery that sees them lying in fourth place and within 5 points of Arsenal, albeit having played an extra game. A good result on Wednesday will have me thinking that maybe a top 3 place is not altogether out of reach.
I must say, more than anything, Benitez's recent announcement that Liverpool where going to play more attacking football was significant news. Benitez's cautious approach is one of the things that continues to frustrate me about him and only when it's 'backs-to-the-wall' does he take the shackles off the team. This is exactly what happened last season after the Middlesborough defeat and it almost won us the league. This season it was the loss to Portsmouth that forced him to alter his approach and we are now seeing the results. This new found form also gives me greater optimism about our chances in the Europa Cup.
It's a pity Kyrgiakos wont be available for Wednesday's game, as he has been exceptional recently, but if Liverpool show the same dogged determination as they did today we have every reason to be optimistic.